Jane's story: Living with multiple medicines

Find out about Jane and hear her speak about the value and challenges of taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 53
Number of medicines: 8
Cultural background: Anglo-Australian



Jane is a part-time teacher and lives in Sydney with her husband.


Current medicines and conditions

Some medicines are taken regularly; some are taken only as needed.

  • Ritalin (methylphenidate): anxiety, low mood
  • Janehep (dosulepin hydrochloride): depression
  • Lithium SR (lithium): anxiety, depression
  • Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate): anxiety, insomnia
  • Oroxine (levothyroxine sodium): Hashimoto’s disease (hypothyroidism; underactive thyroid)
  • Restoril (temazepam): insomnia
  • Fish oil: arthritis, memory
  • Caltrate (calcium, vitamin D).

Medication allergies

Medicines containing sulphur.


Previous conditions and medicines discussed

Mogadon (nitrazepam): insomnia.


About Jane

Jane is currently taking eight medicines of which the ones for anxiety, depression, low mood and insomnia have the most impact on her life. She has experienced a number of significant side effects and has consequently tried numerous medicines to establish her current regimen that is complex and expensive, but is working really well. Jane has a lot of support from family, friends and health professionals, although she has encountered stigmatising attitudes. She has found ways of responding to unhelpful comments and questions that work in most situations and now feels she is in a position to help others.

More about Jane

Jane started medication for depression and anxiety in 1994. She has since had medication to manage arthritis and Hashimoto’s disease added to her regimen and a number of changes have been made to her medicines, because they were ineffective or had intolerable side effects. Jane still experiences side effects (weight gain; thirst and dehydration; tiredness; constipation; dry mouth; hand tremor), but she has learned to accommodate these as her medicines are working so well.

When Jane first began treatment for depression and anxiety, she went away with her husband for a week so that she could establish the new medicine regimen in a quiet, relaxed environment. She found this extremely helpful. Similarly, Jane was also admitted to hospital as an inpatient when she started her current medicines for depression and anxiety, as life was very difficult and she was very unwell. This was helpful, although she was confused by disagreements between her doctor and hospital staff about her medicines and did not feel as if she was in control until this was resolved. The transition back into usual life was helped by having well-established household routines, a friend who came to stay for a week or two and her husband and children who were supportive and reminded her to take her medicines. Jane acknowledges the strong support of her family, friends and community in helping her to manage her mental health and she now feels she is able to support others who are going through a similar experience.

The ‘practical side’ of taking medicines—getting prescriptions filled, organising them and taking medicines at the right times—has been the most difficult part for Jane. She has had to be careful of the timing of her regimen, as some medicines need to fit in with sleep and others need to be taken at the same time every day. This became easier as she became accustomed to the medicines and started using a dosette box. She has also adopted a range of management strategies, such as keeping a water bottle close by and maintaining an orderly approach to filling the dosette box to avoid making mistakes. Cost was also a concern for Jane when she was starting these medicines. However, her husband considers them to be an investment with lifelong benefits and encouraged her to think the same way. Members in their community helped pay for Jane’s medicines and she has also been financially assisted through the Mental Health Care Plan, both of which have been extremely helpful.

Jane receives excellent care from her health practitioners, but she has to be proactive in asking questions of health professionals and telling them about her medicines. She has discovered a number of things only by searching the internet, which is problematic as some practices differ between Australia and other countries. Jane has also encountered negative attitudes about her medicines from healthcare professionals at a pharmacy, a medical centre and a gym, which were very upsetting and offensive. She complained to the manager of the pharmacy and found her response to be very helpful. Jane has experienced stigma in the wider community as well and became careful who she spoke to about her conditions and took her medicines in private. She has since found ways to respond to people’s comments and questions and has found that, in some situations, being honest and upfront is the best approach.

Jane has had to adjust her thinking about having to take medicines for the rest of her life. This was difficult in the beginning, but she now understands it is what she needs to be well and in control, rather than her body and her feelings controlling her. Jane feels that it is only now that her medicine regimen is established and working well that she is really starting to live life.


Listen to Jane's story

Jane had a lot of problems when her doctor made a mistake with one of her prescriptions requiring authority. It was a frustrating process that took a great deal of her time and effort to have this corrected.
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Jane was upset and humiliated when a pharmacist interrogated her about her medicines and medical history in the very public space of the pharmacy. She felt his questioning was unprofessional and inappropriate.
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It has been a long, hard road for Jane to find the right combination of medicines that work for her. She feels that her life is really just starting now that she feels so well.
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Jane has found that the practicalities of managing medicines have been the worst thing for her, particularly when changes have been made and she does not understand the reasons why.
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Jane has tried a number of different medication organisers and has recently changed to a different one to accommodate a new medication regimen. She has a strategy for filling it to avoid making mistakes with her medicines.
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Jane felt she needed more information when she first started taking her medicines. She has found some of the most important information through her own efforts.
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Jane emphasises the importance of knowing about medicines, keeping records and having a trusted friend or family member at medical appointments if necessary.
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When she first started taking medication for depression, Jane went away with her husband to give her space to become accustomed to it. She was admitted to hospital at a later time to learn how to manage a new and complex regimen.
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Jane and her husband made a deliberate decision to be open about her situation with members of their immediate community. They responded with care and support.
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Jane was assisted by starting a new medicine regimen in hospital and developed good habits when she was at home.
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Jane uses a number of aids that work for her to remind her to take her medicines correctly.
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Jane was questioned about the number of medicines she took when she was just starting antidepressants and coming to terms with them.
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Jane was initially concerned about the affordability of her medicines. But her husband regarded them as an investment, which has been an extremely helpful way for Jane to regard her medication.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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